The Pittsburgh Steelers were back out in pads again Saturday night, and head coach Mike Tomlin and crew were ready to get this new year started right. While there wasn’t as much news coming out of Heinz Field Saturday, thanks to Mother Nature, the one area of the team which doesn’t need to be discussed much is the pass rush.
The Steelers could set a franchise record in 2020 if they are able to register 50+ sacks this season, and you can expect T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree to be a very important part of their overall pass rush.
In 2019, Dupree and Watt accounted for 26 total sacks, and Mike Tomlin was asked about not just what separates this tandem from others, but what they do which makes them one of the best pass rushing duos in the league.
Coach Tomlin said it's been fun to watch the maturation of the T.J. Watt/Bud Dupree tandem: They challenge one another daily...they work during special teams on their own and it is their intention to be special and we need them too.— Missi Matthews (@missi_matthews) August 22, 2020
Watt knows the path his career is headed. He already has his 5th year option picked up, and the Steelers will be backing up the Brinks truck to the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex to pay him for his second contract.
Dupree, on the other hand, has everything to play for in 2020. He is currently under the franchise tag and will be looking to hit a pay day somewhere in 2021. Him playing well could be the difference between millions of dollars.
If these two edge rushers can continue to step up their game, the Steelers’ won’t be just setting franchise records, they will be an elite defense in the NFL.
There was other news from Day 5 of training camp practice...
Let’s get to it...
After practice on Saturday, Mike Tomlin said there were the same short-term, or day-to-day, injuries to Diontae Johnson and Terrell Edmunds. David DeCastro continues to be sideline with his own minor injury, and Kevin Dotson (knee) have yet to return after their injuries earlier this week.
However, there were new injuries after Saturday’s practice. Robert Spillane (finger), Wendell Smallwood (shoulder), Kam Canaday (knee) and Chris Wormley (shoulder) who just returned to practice Friday.
Injuries during practice per Coach Tomlin: Spillane (finger), Swallwood (shoulder) Kam Canaday (knee) and Chris Wormley (shoulder)— Missi Matthews (@missi_matthews) August 22, 2020
The Steelers didn’t just wear their game uniforms, but they went through a regular pre-game scenario. This was planned by Tomlin to help his new, and younger, players get a pre-game situation in before the Week 1 Monday Night Football game at MetLife Stadium vs. the Giants.
Tomlin: "I thought it was important to simulate a game-like environment"— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) August 22, 2020
Says they went through the routines and pregame work like they would before a regular season game. Wanted to help guys get rhythm.
Says they did things they would do in a preseason game before practice.
Hope for the 2020 season, and fans in seats at some point
Art Rooney II gave an interview prior to practice, and he had some good news for fans who might be skeptical for the 2020 season to not just start, but to finish.
Steelers President Art Rooney II said during an interview with @KDPomp from tonight’s practice @heinzfield that he feels good about the 2020 season. He said he thinks the NFL will play the season and if they have to they will adapt along the line.— Teresa Varley (@Teresa_Varley) August 22, 2020
On top of that, Rooney also added he hasn’t given up hope on having fans at Heinz Field to watch the Steelers this season, even it if isn’t at full capacity.
Speaking of what Rooney II had to say about the 2020 season, he definitely views the fact the Steelers have a tremendous amount of coaching continuity, and a veteran team as a bonus heading into such an unsure season as this one.
Art Rooney II said he hopes having a veteran team and established coaching staff helps with the challenge of not having an offseason program, normal training camp and a preseason.— Teresa Varley (@Teresa_Varley) August 22, 2020
Mason Rudolph talks development
Early on Saturday, Mason Rudolph spoke to the media, and it was the first time Rudolph spoke and talked about 2019. How he knows he wasn’t good enough, how his shoulder is healing and how he feels he is still a starting NFL caliber quarterback.
Mason Rudolph talks on a Zoom call Saturday about his 2019 season and expectations for this year. pic.twitter.com/CN1LP32kk0— Joe Rutter (@tribjoerutter) August 22, 2020
Mason said his collarbone was just dislocated and after popping it back in place in January, he was good to go by February and throwing by March.— Missi Matthews (@missi_matthews) August 22, 2020
As you can see in the photo below, the Steelers’ evening practice Saturday was cut short when a severe storm came rolling in. Tomlin said the practice was cut short about a ‘period and a half’.
Storm rolling in to Heinz Field, so practice is ending a bit early with the team (and the media) hustling out of the bowl. pic.twitter.com/8zTNjyOUvR— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) August 22, 2020
A recap of the day’s happenings, in audio form:
Live Look-In at Practice
Mike Tomlin Post-Practice Conference
Anthony McFarland and Derek Watt in a running back drill pic.twitter.com/mZ719qg504— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) August 23, 2020
Ben Roethlisberger, in a game jersey, throwing footballs at Heinz Field. pic.twitter.com/6WKLcbGFBO— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) August 23, 2020